By Debbie Gregory.
Music has been scientifically proven to change a person’s mood, dependent on what kind of music it is. Sad songs tend to make people feel lethargic, and happy music tends to boost levels of endorphins, leading people to feel good.
Sounds of Acoustic Recovery (SOAR) aims to help Veterans in feeling useful again. Mike Byer, president and founder of SOAR, retired 21 years ago. Byer reflected on the first Christmas he went home after receiving the news that he could no longer deploy. “My mom had this old guitar sitting in the closet and I asked if I could take it with me and play with it” Byer said. So he brought it back to Fort Campbell with him and in 2011 he started playing a few strings.
“It made me feel better, and I thought, if it helps me, it probably will help some of my guys” Byer said. He recalled how it started out in his office. “A few guys in my company played, and before I knew it, I had an office full of guys every day at lunch.” he said.
That sparked the idea for SOAR, and in 2011, SOAR began to offer eight-week classes on how to play the guitar. According to Byer, the main goal of SOAR is to “get guys out of the house, get together, and have a sense of purpose”
The classes have quite literally soared to success, and are now being offered at Fort Campbell, Fort Leonard Wood, and Fort Stewart, GA. Fort Huachuca in Arizona will soon be offering the class as well. Even the Nashville Musicians Association is getting in on the action, and they will be offering classes as well.
Six String Heroes have donated an Epiphone DR100 Acoustic guitar for every Veteran taking part in the class, which have most recently taken place off post at The Tree of Life Center, where they can be found every Thursday evening for the next few months.
For Veterans sitting at home, thinking of the old days and what they cant do anymore, Byer feels SOAR gives them an outlet to show they can still do something.
“Music just has this kind of therapy to it,” Byer said. He paused and added, “I mean it has helped me, it probably saved my life.”
However, SOAR isn’t just for Veterans. If you’re active duty and want to participate in SOAR, you can find them on Facebook for more information.
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Military Connection: Music helps Veterans SOAR: By Debbie Gregory